February 4, 2021
If ever there was a gem hidden at the end of a winding road it would have to be the Genoa Bay Cafe.
I am quite certain the locals deliberately don’t chat it up, protecting their ability to get a table on a Saturday night.
Genoa Bay is a tiny community tucked away down a winding country road slightly southeast of Duncan. The journey there is a lovely drive through lush farm fields and forests.
Opened in 2010, this little cafe has garnered a faithful local following, and no wonder. Friendly, quaint atmosphere and outstanding food are both on the menu.
Our shared appetizer of Salt Spring Island mussels steamed with a scent of garlic in a rich broth flavoured with fennel seeds and Chardonnay was prepared to perfection. Tender morsels of the ocean nestled in a broth gently accented with the seasonings. As a testament to that, one of my dinner companions stated:, “I always thought I did not like mussels, now I love them!”
I chose an entree from the fresh sheet; Cornish game hen served with a mouseline sauce. It heartens me to see a chef that is not afraid to use a classic French sauce. Complicated though it may be, Mousseline is a concoction of hollandaise folded into whipped cream. Decadent as that may sound on its own, the Genoa Bay Cafe’ chef, Dustin Cooknell, incorporated slivers of sautéed wild mushrooms in for added depth. Let me tell you, each bite of game hen bathed in this stuff was like heaven.
My dining partners all ordered a menu favourite of pork loin stuffed with apples and pecans. The traditional combination of pork and apples was elevated with rich pecans and served, juicy and not over cooked , with a light rosemary cream.
The wine menu featured a careful selection of international wines and an outstanding selection from Vancouver Island. To accompany our meal we chose the Bacchus from Alderlea Vineyards, located slightly North West of Duncan. The Alderlea Bacchus’ aroma of grapefruit, rose blossom and apricot accompanied our main courses impeccably. True to the Vancouver Island white wine style, this bottle left dry minerals on our palates and a good linger of citrus.
Bacchus is a bit of a “wine nerd wine”, you have to hunt down the good ones and most of them have limited production. A Germanic hybrid that produces powerfully flavourful wines, this unsung hero is gaining huge popularity in the UK, where its early ripening properties suit the climate.
The patio at the Genoa Bay Cafe is opennow, offering diners a delightful view of verdant mountains and a marina full of picturesque house boats and other water-craft. No matter where on Vancouver Island you live, this lovely eatery and marina is a great day trip adventure all year long.